So Long and Thanks for all the Word Count

Vintage inscription made by old typewriter

In preparation for NaNoWriMo, I’ve been focused on world-building and establishing both a firmer background for my universe and a greater framework of events that occurred within the past of my universe and of course what will occur in the future.  As such, I’ve been writing less in the novel proper and more around the periphery of my narrative.  The idea being that when November hits, I’ll stop anything that’s not part of the novel proper and just build the story for a solid month.  This will be easier because I’ll already have worked out what should happen and when and I can keep my story straight because I know where my destination is.  I know a lot of writers are very spontaneous, writing using a stream-of consciousness method, but I need to have a map, especially since my my story has a lot of interconnecting gears to drive the machine forward.

The one downside to this is that I have made some changes in a few of the characters and in what I’d like their role to be.  This poses a problem in the first third of the novel I’ve already written.  I’ve made small edits so far, but as this is my first draft, I’ve been waiting to finish the manuscript before taking a hard editorial look at the novel as it stands.  However, I decided today that some edits, a few of them quite severe, must be done before I begin writing in earnest again, so that everything is coherent moving forward.  It’s easier to make those changes now than to do them during November or -even worse- try to reconcile relatively disharmonious plot points during the first draft edit, perhaps a much as three to four months from now.

So, today I started the cutting.  While it’s not a feeling I’m unfamiliar with and there’s nary an author who is not familiar with that bittersweet activity, it is nonetheless a difficult period of self-doubt and internal bargaining.  I really like this, should I keep it?  Maybe I could keep it if I do X!  Is this really that great an idea, this change I’m making?  Maybe it’s better the way I originally wrote it!  (Rarely, if ever).  These are just a few of the questions I’ve been asking myself.  I know there will be may more.

I know inside that the changes i’m making will make the novel better, stronger, more coherent, more readable.  Still, it’s like getting rid of a cherished possession, if even one purchased on a whim, in a frenzy, as it were.  It is part of writing, I suppose, but I don’t think i will even truly enjoy it.  Yet the cuts are necessary, the changes required, the additions mandatory.  I’ll feel better once it’s finished, once the scriptory slaughter is over.  Till then, red in pen and DELETE, it is the nature of the process.

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